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23 Feb 2021


January Thai Exports, Excluding Gold, Continued to Grow in line with the Global Economy (Business Brief No.3913)


  • Thailand's outward trade posted steady growth over-month in January 2021 as the global economy began to recover. Excluding gold, Thai exports increased 6.3 percent, suggesting stronger demand for Thai products abroad, in particular automotive accessories, which surged 18.8 percent YoY, against the 0.2 percent contraction reported for December 2020. Shipments of work-from-home products and electrical appliances recorded steady growth, especially television sets and related components, which grew for the seventh consecutive months in line with changing consumer behavior.
  • Shipments to major markets performed well because the COVID-19 pandemic began to subside in those markets, with the exception of the European Union (EU), as COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to 92 countries around the world and vaccinations in many countries were carried out at faster-than-expected rate, leading to a substantial reduction in the number of daily cases while consumer confidence was beginning to bounce back. Additionally, numerous nations continued to roll out economic stimulus measures especially the US, with a mammoth economic relief package of USD1.9 trillion, aimed at supporting the recovery of the world's major economy during 2021. The US economic stimulus package helped support Thai exports to grow 12.4 percent YoY in January, while exports to Japan increased 7.4 percent YoY. Shipments to CLMV countries resumed growth for the first time in 10 months at 3.8 percent YoY after shrinking 6.3 percent YoY. Exports to Vietnam grew at the fastest rate of 20.1 percent YoY.
  • However, Thailand's January export growth was lower than those of other countries in the region and the 2.7 percent growth projected by markets, pressured partly by a shortage of shipping containers and higher ocean freight rates. Such problems are expected to persist until the end of 2021 or early 2022. Therefore, despite demand for Thai products, exporters may lose opportunities if there is a shortage of shipping containers in the future. Concurrently, Thailand's outward trade was inhibited by the strong Baht. The Thai currency is projected to move within a range of THB29-29.25/USD at the year-end. The expected strengthening and volatility in the Baht will inevitably hurt Thai exports. We at KResearch, therefore, project that 2021 Thai exports will grow at 3.0 percent.
Meanwhile, due to faster-than-expected global economic recovery and higher crude oil prices, which will likely help bolster Thailand's refined petroleum exports, KResearch, therefore, projects that Thai exports during the remainder of 2021 may grew fa​ster than our prior estimate of 3.0 percent during the remainder of 2021.